Friday, June 30, 2023

Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Shabbos

Happy Birthday, America! As Americans gather to celebrate its inception on July 4, it is worth reminding ourselves about the blessing of America. The public is fed a steady diet of pessimism and depressing news about America, so it's not an easy exercise to pause and reflect on the unique blessing called the United States of America. The United States Supreme Court issued a ruling that will have a major impact on Observant Jews in America. For too long, people were forced to choose between their jobs and commitment to observing Shabbos. Many employees were told that even causing a company "minimum hardship" was grounds to refuse a Shabbos observant Jew any accommodation. In its landmark ruling of Groff v. DeJoy, the Supreme Court clarified the religious expression of employers in the workplace. Groff v. DeJoy, concerned whether the U.S. Postal Service was required to accommodate an evangelical Christian mail carrier who refused to work on Sundays. When Gerald Groff began working for USPS, Sunday shifts weren't part of the job. But that changed when USPS signed a deal to deliver Amazon parcels. After receiving discipline for not working Sundays, Mr. Groff resigned. He sued under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which requires employers to "reasonably accommodate a person's religious practices in the workplace. The OU submitted a " friend of the court'' brief in the case, which was quoted in the majority opinion. The Supreme Court, in a unanimous 9-0 decision, ruled in favor of Groff. The implications of this decision for Shabbos observant people in the United States cannot be overstated. The Supreme Court strengthened the rights of religious employees in their workplaces to receive accommodations for their religious needs from their employers. Not too long ago, Jews had to choose between keeping their jobs and keeping Shabbos. We have made a lot of progress since then, and the Supreme Court decision this week furthers the ability for a Jew to be observant of Shabbos in the United States. In an era where we are only too familiar with what is wrong in America, let us pause for a moment and be thankful with the blessings of America. Have a Peaceful Shabbos, Rabbi Yaakov Fisch

Friday, June 2, 2023

The Greatest Sacrifice

"You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hope and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well-trained, well equipped, and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory! Good luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking." General Dwight Eisenhower delivered these remarks to the Allied troops immediately before the D-Day invasion. This upcoming week we observe the anniversary of D-Day on June 6. It's hard to overstate the significance of this day and its implications for the world and the Jewish People in particular. For years, the Nazis had occupied nearly all of Europe, including France. The occupation deprived the Allies of opening a Western front to fight the Nazis. Hitler was clear about his ambitions to make the world Judenrein (free of Jews). Had Germany prevailed in World War Two, there would likely be no Jews left today. It is with that context that D-Day must be understood. The D-Day operation of June 6, 1944, brought together the Allied armies' land, air, and sea forces in what became known as the largest amphibious invasion in military history. The Nazis were well prepared for the Allied invasion. To prepare for an invasion, in 1942, Germany began construction on the Atlantic Wall, a network of bunkers, pillboxes, mines, and landing obstacles up and down the French coastline. The Allies, composed of American, British, and Canadian troops, finally stormed the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944. The Germans were ready for the Allies and put up a strong initial resistance. Over 9,000 Allied troops were killed in the first 24 hours on the Beaches of Normandy. Eventually, the Allied forces overwhelmed the Nazis and started the battle to liberate Europe from the Nazis. Today the Normandy American Cemetery, sited on a bluff high above the coast, is one of the world's best-known military memorials. These hallowed grounds preserve the remains of nearly 9,400 Americans who died during the Allied liberation of France. The Jewish People, in particular, will remain forever grateful for the greatest sacrifice these troops made in blood and treasure. With the help of G-d, these troops died by the thousands, so we can live to see another day. In an era where terms of sacrifice and dedication are cheapened, it's worth reflecting on how the Allied troops' sacrifice literally changed the world's trajectory. Have a Peaceful Shabbos, Rabbi Yaakov Fisch

Most Destructive Word in the English Language

I have always been intrigued by the “word of the year.” This last year of 2023, Merriam Webster designated “authentic” as the WOTY (word of ...